Appendix: What is Open Access?

Open Access (OA) eliminates two kinds of access barriers at once: price barriers and permission barriers. OA literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. OA is compatible with copyright, peer review, preservation, prestige, career advancement, indexing and other features and services associated with conventional scholarly literature. It's being adopted, in one form or another, by growing numbers of scholars, universities, publishers, funding agencies, and governments. Although the campaign for OA arose for literature that authors give to the world without expectation of payment, such as journal articles, OA could be extended to any kind of digital content. For the present, though, the OA movement focuses on royalty-free scholarly communication, where the goal is to maximize dissemination of new results and advance the frontier of knowledge. OA will accelerate research and share knowledge in every field, but change is happening faster in the STM fields (science, technology, and medicine) than in the arts and humanities.

The legal basis for OA lies in ordinary, unrevised copyright law. OA for older work is based on the public domain. OA for newer work is based on the consent of the author or copyright holder, who agrees to a license that may require attribution (and prevent plagiarism), or block commercial re-use, but permits the uses required by legitimate scholarship: reading, downloading, sharing, storing, printing, searching, linking, and the crawling, mining, or other processing of the full text, for example. OA texts are delivered through two primary vehicles: OA archives or repositories, which do not perform peer review but simply make their contents freely available, and OA journals, which do perform peer review and then make the juried material freely available.

Some publishers already provide full open access; some publish hybrid (OA and toll access) journals; and others are considering different OA experiments. Most publishers and journals already permit author-initiated OA archiving of unrefereed preprints, refereed postprints, or both. Many business models are compatible with OA. While most OA publishers are non-profit, several for-profit OA publishers are already profitable. OA publishers can generate revenue from institutional subsidies, priced add-ons, auxiliary services, advertising, publication fees, or any combination. Most OA journals do not charge publication fees; but when they do, the fees are usually paid by the author's employer or research grant, not by the author out of pocket, and fees are often discounted for researchers with institutional memberships or waived in cases of hardship. There's a lot of room for creativity in finding ways to pay the costs of a peer-reviewed OA journal, and we're far from having exhausted our cleverness and imagination.

Public funding agencies in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Scotland, Switzerland, and the UK already require OA archiving for peer-reviewed journal articles arising from publicly funded research. Since May 2005, the US National Institutes of Health has encouraged OA for publications arising from NIH-funded research, but in December 2007 Congress strengthened the policy and made it a requirement. Over 30 universities worldwide encourage or require OA archiving for the research output of the institution.